Southern Front rebels next in Assad regime sights
Since the Douma chemical attack terrorized the rebel defenders of Eastern Ghouta enclave into accepting a "surrender deal" and evacuating to Idlib province, the Assad regime and its Russian allies have been preparing a final offensive on the last remaining areas of Syria still under rebel control. These of course include Idlib in the north, the last full governorate (province) held by the rebels. But an Associated Press report suggests the regime may first focus its firepower on Daraa governorate in the south, where the Free Syrian Army's Southern Front continues to hold territory. And while the rebel militias that hold Idlib are mostly conservative Islamists, the Southern Front is secular-nationalist in its leadership.
The AP writes that the Southern Front "received covert US arms, funding and training to help them fight both the Syrian government and IS. But President Donald Trump ended the CIA program last year to try and extricate the US from the civil war..." It does not mention that even under Obama, the US Military Operations Center established in Jordan to coordinate aid to the Southern Front was demanding that these forces not launch an offensive to take back towns that had fallen to the Assad regime, but concentrate on fighting the jihadist Nusra Front—further evidence of Washington's tilt to Assad that has been demonstrated nearly throughout the Syrian war, superficial appearances notwithstanding.
And if Assad does focus his offensive on the Southern Front first, despite that fact that the Islamists in Idlib hold more territory, it will be further evidence that he views the secular opposition as the greater theat, and has sought to create the reality portrayed his own propaganda: that there is no choice other than his fascist regime or the jihadists.
Meanwhile, the last rebel-held enclave in the Damascus suburbs, Dumayr, is being evacuated under the same kind of "surrender deal" effected throiugh chemical terror at nearby Ghouta. These evacuations, of course, include much of the civil populace—not just armed fighters. The UN has voiced concern that such "evacuations" amount to the forced displacement of civilians under threat of reprisals or forced conscription.
And the Palestinian refugee camp at Yarmouk, also outside Damasus, is coming under intensive bombardment by Assad-Putin forces, in an effort to drive out rebel factions that have taken refuge there. UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, reports "large numbers" displaced by the bombardment of Yarmouk. (Syria Direct, Middle East Eye)
Of course "anti-war" (sic) hypocrites who are the first to oppose Israeli bombing of Palestinians in Gaza are monumentally silent on Assad-Putin bombing of Palestinians in Yramouk—despite the fact that, at this particular moment at least, it is the greater atrocity.